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in food, photography

Hostess in Training 1.6.2016

This week I made one of my husband’s favorite desserts, miniature clementine cakes. I got the whole idea of baking these the first time from the movie “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. From Kristin Wiig singing “Space Oddity” to Ben Stiller outrunning a volcano, the movie is so surreal and yet so believable at the same time that it really makes you think about how amazing life is. I would like to think we live in a world where those things could happen, a world where clementine cake could win the good graces of an Afghan Warlord.

Which is why I bake this cake. I took the recipe straight from the blog The Woks of Life except I substitute Pamela’s gluten free pancake mix for the flour. The only reason I started doing this was because at the time, my husband was trying to isolate an allergy and we started cutting out gluten. They were so delicious that I just always make them this way. And I tend to keep Pamela’s pancake mix in the pantry because it is just really good.

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The second element of today’s training was to try out a new technique of food photography that was inspired by A Brown Table. It was just so unique and such a huge departure from the normal bright, nearly over-exposed photos that are normally associated with baking. What do you think?

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Style Inspiration: NYC Restaurant L’Amico

These days no matter where I am, a restaurant, a coffee shop, a clothing store, a friend’s house, all I see are possible design ideas and inspiration. This was no different at L’Amico, a bright, modern farmhouse of an Italian restaurant with an open kitchen and wood everywhere.

What I noticed upon entering the restaurant was that I loved everything about it. It made you feel hip and yet at home at the same time. The front wall of windows had been retracted so that the whole restaurant was open to the busy streets of Midtown Manhattan and yet it still felt cozy. I began collecting observations so that I could understand how this ambiance was created.

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Open Kitchen: You can see the chefs hard at work in the background of the photo above. It was essential to me when choosing a floorplan for my own home that the kitchen be open to the family room. To me, a kitchen is a family room and they should naturally just be parts of the same room. This is how you achieve that feeling of warmth.

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Style Inspiration: $2.4 Million Mansion

When your local paper features a story on a new model home with a two story master closet, you go. Thus my lazy Saturday style adventure began. After you choose and purchase your new home, there seems little reason to continue looking at model homes. But this is actually the most beneficial time to go to model homes. As I mentioned in my previous post Model Home Mirages, model homes set a pretty unrealistic expectation of what your home is going to look like. They have all the bells and whistles and are decorated so fine, that you feel like you’re in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine.

And that is EXACTLY how you should see it. Now that I’ve already chosen my home, I am using this opportunity to walk through model homes only focusing on the amazing interior design. Instead of buying magazines for $10 a pop, I can simply drive to a few local model homes and experience the designs first hand; walk through the living exhibit, touch it, live it, and figure out what I want in my own home. Therefore price doesn’t matter and of course I chose to walk through a $2.4 million dollar, 5000 sq ft monstrosity.

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in food, photography

Baking + Photos

Part of the perfect home is the perfect hostess. Like many women finding their balance between career and domesticity, I have unrealistic dreams about throwing glamorous parties with beautiful centerpieces, calligraphy name cards, and photogenic dishes. I figure with these ambitions, I should start honing my baking skills.

The ultimate goal of course it to bake something so beautiful that there is a collective “Oooh” across the dining room and everyone can’t help themselves but get their phones out and take a photo.

In this post – a terribly photogenic but downright inedible lemon ricotta cake, the moistest chocolate cupcakes in the world with delicate matcha green tea buttercream, and some pretty decent yet unimpressive lemon bars.

No you didn’t misread. I did something stupid which is that I took a random recipe off of pinterest without doing any research on the blogger nor did I read any reviews on the recipe. Now the photos are gorgeous, just as they were the first time I saw it on pinterest. But I might as well have been eating sawdust. Now, to be fair, I made a very cavalier substitution of coconut flour for almond flour because I didn’t have enough almond flour left in the house – oops. Anyway, here are the beautiful photos but BEWARE DO NOT MAKE.

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Marble Paradise

Countertops are perhaps one of the most important things to me and my kitchen. Our house features a huge 60 sq ft island in the middle of the open plan kitchen and therefore it will be the centerpiece of our primary living space. My first visit to the design center produced mixed results in terms of countertops. The only option that they had that I was in any way happy with was carrara marble. But all I was given was a little 6”x8” swatch that really tells you nothing about a slab of natural stone. Leaving the design center with little confidence on the countertop options, I knew I would have to take things into my own hands.

After some internet searching I found a countertop fabricator in the Houston area that had a showroom and also happened to carry Blanco sinks. So I was able to accomplish two things at once. American Countertop Fabricators were extremely helpful and taught us a lot about what really goes into a kitchen countertop. One thing we learned, most edges, bullnose, beveled, waterfall, were free. This was something that our builder plans to charge us for. Haha, not anymore!

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